Why Fish?

Humor finds its subjects

Liza Donnelly
3 min readSep 13


It’s not clear to me why I have so many fish drawings. My rule of thumb, however, is that you never know where you will find humor. Or where it will find you.

Here is one I did last week.

I have spent time fishing, on the Jersey shore; then later, fly fishing in Wyoming as a teenager on a hiking program in the Wind River Mountain Range (that was fun). But I have not gone fishing for many decades. It seems I just find fish, and the act of fishing, a good place to find humor. It’s one of those things humans do that is funny.

Here is one The New Yorker published a few years ago.

I had a tropical fish tank when I was a kid, a project that I did with my father. I loved that, it was fun sharing that with him. This one below I drew many years ago, it was never published anywhere (you can see my style has changed since then).

There are so many aspects to fish! And I don’t think I have done any undersea drawings. This next one is a little dark.

And below is a version of the one above that I sold to The New Yorker. I probably drew this one first (judging again from the style and my memory), and then redid it to make the bait a hot dog and coming from a giant fish. Nothing is funnier than a giant fish. Come to think of it, what is the difference between “lure” and “bait?”

This was from a few years ago.



Liza Donnelly

Visual journalist/writer for New Yorker, New York Times, WaPo, CNN. TED, SXSW speaker. Looking to change world w humor. newsletter:https://lizadonnelly.substack